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Mosquito pool tests positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Worcester County

Snow Hill, MD – The Worcester County Health Department received notification from the State of Maryland that a mosquito pool in the Whaleyville area of Worcester County recently tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).

The mosquito species that tested positive feeds primarily on birds. This is the first positive test for EEE in Worcester in 2023.   

Arboviruses, such as the EEE virus, are most common during the summer and fall months. The viruses are transmitted by infected mosquitoes and spread to humans, birds, horses and other animals. Since mosquitoes can breed in as little as a quarter inch of water, eliminating standing water is critical for the control of mosquito populations. Many factors impact when and where outbreaks occur, such as weather, numbers of mosquitoes that spread the virus, and human behavior.

The Worcester Health Department is providing the following tips to help prevent contact with mosquitoes and reduce risk of infection with EEE or other mosquito borne illnesses:

  • Remove standing water around your home; as little as one-half inch of water will support dozens of mosquitoes. Remove or turn over buckets, bottles, and other containers; discard old tires or drill drainage holes in tires used for playground equipment; clean rain gutters; store canoes, wheelbarrows, and plastic wading pools upside down; flush birdbaths and the bottom of plant holders twice a week; remove pet food and water dishes that are not being used; adjust tarps (over pools, boats, etc.) to eliminate standing water; fix dripping faucets.
  • Wear clothing that covers the arms, legs, and feet whenever you are outdoors.
  • Use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved mosquito repellent sparingly on exposed skin. Consult a physician before applying EPA approved mosquito repellent to young children.  Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children and do not use repellents on children under 3 years of age. 
  • Follow package instructions carefully.
  • Spray clothing with EPA approved mosquito repellent as mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing.
  • Minimize outdoor activities at dawn, dusk, and in the early evening when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Inspect window and door screens and repair any holes found.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of Eastern Equine Encephalitis include fever, headache, irritability, restlessness, drowsiness, vomiting, diarrhea, cyanosis, convulsions, and coma. People with milder illnesses typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for several weeks. In more severe cases, patients need to be hospitalized to receive supportive treatment. Anyone with possible symptoms of EEE should contact a health care provider immediately.

Horse owners can protect their horses from EEE with a vaccine, contact your veterinarian for information.

Mosquito spraying is expected to be conducted in the Whaleyville  area in response to this report.  Details regarding date, amount of area and method of distribution will be provided as they become available and will be weather dependent.

For more prevention tips and information about Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) visit www.cdc.gov/easternequineencephalitis.